Amit Shah assures strict action as protest erupts at Jamia after firing

This comes after a man opened fire at anti-citizenship law protesters at Jamia Millia Islamia University

Jamia millia, CAA, Delhi assembly elections
The students of Jamia Millia Islamia have been staging a protest against the new citizenship law for more than two months. PTI Photo

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday (January 30) said he has directed Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik to take the strictest action after a man opened fire at anti-citizenship law protesters at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, triggering panic in Jamia Nagar and injuring a student of the university.

The home minister also said the central government will not tolerate such incidents and the guilty will not be spared. “I have spoken to the Delhi Police Commissioner on the incident of firing in Delhi and have directed him to take strictest action,” Shah said in a tweet in Hindi. He said there will be serious action into the incident.

Tension spiralled in Jamia Nagar after the incident as the attacker, who identified himself as ‘Rambhakt Gopal’, walked away while waving the firearm above his head and shouting “Yeh lo aazadi (take your freedom)” amid heavy police presence. He was soon overpowered by police and detained. He was taken into custody and was being interrogated, police said.

The entire drama, which triggered panic in the area, was captured by television cameras that showed the man in light coloured pants and a dark jacket. The gunman went live on Facebook before the brandishing the gun. Police said they were verifying whether ‘Rambhakt Gopal’ is his real name.

Before the attack, the man also put out messages on Facebook stating “Shaheen Bhag Khel Khatam (Run Shaheen, the game is over)”. Another message stated, “Please wrap me in saffron in my last journey with slogans of Jai Shri Ram”. His Facebook profile was deleted after screenshots of his posts were circulated widely on social media platforms.

Soon after the incident, massive protests erupted in the area as hundreds of agitated people gathered near the university, breaking barricades and clashing with police personnel. Shadab Farooq, who belongs to Kashmir, was injured in the incident and taken to the AIIMS Trauma Centre.

Several students recapped how their peaceful march on Gandhi’s death anniversary became violent. “We were moving towards the Holy Family Hospital where the police had raised barricades. Suddenly, a gun-wielding man came out and opened fire. One bullet hit my friend’s hand,” Aamna Asif, a student of economics at the university, told PTI. The injured student, Farooq, was seen in a photo climbing on the barricades to go to the hospital.

There was heavy police and media presence when the incident took place. The students were heading from Jamia to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat. The march was stopped at the Holy Family Hospital near the university. Chinmoy Biswal, DCP (South East), said the students wanted to take out a march from Jamia to Rajghat but were denied permission.

“They were repeatedly told the protest should be carried out peacefully. We had barricaded the road just before the Holy Family hospital. Meanwhile, a person was seen in the crowd who waved something which appeared to be a weapon. We have detained him and are interrogating him. One person has also been injured,” Biswal said.

An injured student tries to cross police barricades to head for a nearby hospital | PTI Photo

The incident comes days after Union Minister Anurag Thakur egged on a crowd of supporters to raise the “shoot the traitors” slogan at a rally in the poll-bound national capital. Thakur had refused to tender an apology for his remark saying the mood of the people should also be analysed.

Citing Thakur’s remark, the opposition parties have escalated their attack on the minister of state for finance, saying the BJP leader should be arrested and that it’s a “BJP conspiracy”. The Election Commission has banned him from campaigning for three days. He has also been removed by the poll body as star campaigners of the party.

CPI general secretary D Raja said the incident is a “direct result” of the inflammatory comments made by BJP leaders. “The Jamia firing incident is a direct result of provocative statements made by BJP leaders during campaigning in Delhi. Anurag Thakur should be arrested for his comments urging crowds to raise slogan of shoot the traitors,” Raja said.

“The hate-speech and call to violence by Union ministers and BJP leaders – along with the silence of the PM – has led to this shameful outcome. This is the kind of India this govt wants to create. #MartyrsDay,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted. It’s unfortunate such an incident has taken place on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, he said.

The attacker was subsequently overpowered by police and taken into custody | Photo: Facebook

Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleged the firing incident was a BJP conspiracy to get the Delhi elections postponed as the “saffron party knows it is losing” the polls scheduled for February 8. The BJP was behind the “disgusting” act committed on the Martyrdom Day of Mahatma Gandhi, AAP leader Sanjay Singh alleged.

“The BJP did such a disgusting act on the Martyrdom Day of Gandhi ji. The BJP and Home Minister Amit Shah are scared of losing the upcoming polls and they are trying to get the polls postponed through the act. Amit Shah has tied the hands of the Delhi police in Jamia that is why they were mute spectators of the incident,” Singh said in a tweet.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked Amit Shah to take care of the “deteriorating” law and order situation in Delhi. “What is happening in Delhi? The law and order is deteriorating. Please take care of Delhi’s law and order,” the chief minister said in a tweet.

(With inputs from agencies)